While the term "homeless" is often used to describe this population, a negative stereotype is often associated with this term. Moving forward, McKinney-Vento eligible will be used in place of the term "homeless."
History of McKinney-Vento Law
McKinney-Vento: Federal homeless education legislation
During the 1980s, the federal government recognized the magnitude of the problem of homelessness within our country and, more specifically, the increasing incidences of homelessness among families with children and unaccompanied youth. To address this issue, Congress passed the Stewart B. McKinney Act, reauthorized most recently as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. This act guarantees homeless children and youth the following:
The right to immediate enrollment in school, even if lacking paperwork normally required for enrollment.
In January 1995, the Illinois Education For Homeless Children Act of 1994 became law. This law established trasportation as a right for McKinney-Vento elibigle students.
The 2001 reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act ensured the educational rights and protections of these children and youth so that they may enroll in school, attend regularly, and succeed in educational opportunities. This reauthorized legislation requires a local homeless education liaison in every school district to assist children and unaccompanied youth in their efforts to achieve high standards in school.
The term homeless children and youth-
A). Means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and
- Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or a awaiting foster care placement
- Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
- Children and youths who are living in a cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus/train stations, or similar settings, and
- Migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the childen are living in circumstances described in clauses (1) through (3).
Homeless Education: An Introduction to the Issues.
How many people in the United States are homeless? People experiencing homelessness are not a static group; homelessness is a revolving-door phenomenon. It is estimated that, over the course of a year, between 2.3 and 3.5 million people will experience homelessness, of which between 900,000 and 1.4 million will be children.
What are the main causes of homelessness?
The main cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. While this lack alone is often enough to cause homelessness, when combined with other factors such as low wages, unemployment, domestic violence, illness, mental health issues, and addiction, the risk of experiencing homelessness increases dramatically.
Unaccompanied youth are youth not in the physical custody of a parent of guardian. The primary causes of homelessness among unaccompanied youth are physical or sexual abuse by a parent or guardian, neglect, parental substance abuse, and family conflict.
Homelessness: A fringe issue?
Many people view homelessness as a fringe issue, affecting only certain kinds of people on the edges of society. This view does not reflect the changing demographics of homelessness in the United States, including a steady rise in homelessness among families with children. Consider the following questions:
- Could you ever experience a flood, fire, tornado, or other natural disaster?
- Do you work in an area of the economy where your job might become obsolete?
- Could you ever suffer from a long-term illness or accident without proper health benefits or other compensations?
- Do you live in a household with only one full-time wage earner?
- Are you behind on any monthly bills?
- Are housing costs in your area increasing faster than wages?
- Does anyone in your family struggle with addiction or mental illness?
- Could you ever face extreme financial difficulty without family or close friends available to come to your aid?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not immune to homelessness. These questions are not meant to create alarm, but rather to spread awareness that people experiencing homelessness are people just like us. They desire financial stability and a secure home, but have confronted difficult circumstances without sufficient resources to overcome the situation and remain housed.